The idea of Ben Affleck directing his first movie, and casting his younger brother Casey in the lead, didn’t thrill me. I was back to liking Affleck, after his great performance in Hollywoodland last year, but why the jump behind the camera?
Well, this detective thriller was a lot of fun.
Initially Casey Affleck wasn’t working for me, but I soon warmed up to him and his cursing; and I now can’t think of many actors that would have the awkwardness combined with the cockiness, and have it work so swimmingly.
Affleck co-wrote the script (with Aaron Stockard), from the novel by Dennis Lehane, the author of Mystic River. Both stories have some flaws in the logic of characters at the end, but also very powerful endings.
Affleck and Michelle Monaghan are detectives in a crappy small Boston town. They get involved in a missing child case which has been making the news. The missing child’s mother is played by Amy Ryan – in what should be an Oscar nominated performance. It’s strange to have a movie with Morgan Freeman where he doesn’t deserve an Oscar nomination, but others in the cast do.
Ryan and her family think the police are lagging at their jobs, and the private dicks are brought in.
They brought in the right guy, too. Affleck is one tenacious detective. He has tough talks with drug dealers, and even a child molester.
I especially liked how Ed Harris (has he ever had a bad performance?) and Freeman kind of resent Affleck. It’s not like in some movies where the cops just scream and holler. There’s just little subtle things said, or looks they give, that let’s Affleck know his work, no matter how thorough, isn’t welcomed.
This movie will let me forgive Ben Affleck for Surviving Christmas, Paycheck, Jersey Girl, Man About Town, Smokin’ Aces, and Gigli. Maybe a career behind the camera is in store for him, and he can act in scripts when they’re interesting characters – like the aforementioned Hollywoodland (if you don’t know the story of TV’s Superman, rent it).
Casey needs to thank his big brother, because other studios will now realize that the baby-faced actor got the part more than just from nepotism.
If you really scrutinize the movie, it’s a little flawed and unbelievable. I give that a pass, though, because it’s one of those thrillers that was so unpredictable, I was on the edge of my seating watching it.
I had the weirdest two hour argument with the friends afterwards. There’s such an interesting moral dilemma, none of us could agree on what we would’ve done. I won’t ruin it, except to say Casey was right, and you can only say he isn’t with the benefit of hindsight being 20/20.
This movie gets a B (for Boston).